mural art

The following book review is by Street Art NYC contributor Houda Lazrak

For over a decade, the POW! WOW! Street Art Festival has been bringing standout murals by internationally renowned artists to cities throughout the globe. POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, authored by the festival’s founder and curator Jasper Wong and published by Paragon Books, pays a well-deserved homage to the hundreds of murals created during the festival’s many iterations.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, chronicles POW! POW!’s many editions in fifteen cities, with page spreads of striking murals. Each chapter begins with an image of a location’s discerning geographic or urban features: Taiwan’s sprawling nightlights, Long Beach’s palm-tree lined waterfront, Antelope Valley’s field of tulips, Haiwai’s oceanside downtown, Rotterdam’s glass-lined buildings.

Photographs of the murals follow with many in-progress images of artists at work including: Nychos, Jeff Soto, Cinta Vidal and Tran Nguyen. The process shots are dynamic and illustrate the labor of mural making. Readers are also provided with biographical information of each of the participating artists.

Featured are many examples of collaborative murals. The mural painted by James Bullough and Ricky Watts, for example, fuses Bullough’s realistic portraiture with Watts’ fluid shapes and psychedelic patterns. In another mural highlighted, Rone’s figurative signature style meets Aaron de la Cruz‘s calligraphic mazes. And featured, too, is a three-person collaboration between Cambodian, Japanese and Hawaiian artists Andrew Hem, Yoskay Yamamoto and Edwin Ushiro, respectively.

The book also features candid shots of festival goers, participants and organizers, offering a window into the festival’s atmosphere beyond the art-making. In his forward, editor-in-chief of Booooooom Jeff Hamada, describes the festival’s intention as a “naive desire to bring people together – not just to paint walls and go home, but to actually get to know each other, share stories, and form real friendships.

Jasper Wong also writes that the festival’s name itself, POW!WOW!, “is taken from a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art, which spoke to [their] core mission to beautify, educate and bring people together through art and music.” The book portrays this intention and the excitement that unravels. The unique urban culture of cities is also shown in image compilations. Among these are: Korea’s thriving music and food scene, and San Jose’s bicycle culture.

POW!WOW! is often invited to return to its host cities, attesting to the positive value that murals add to the vitality of metropolises. In flipping through the pages, the location types are noticeable: artworks are often erected in residential areas, discrete alleyways, and unpretentious parking lots. It serves as a reminder of POW!WOW!’s contribution to diverse neighborhoods, beyond hyper visible spots in downtowns areas or arts districts.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art is a welcome addition to any street art aficionado’s library and can be purchased from most online book stores.

Featured images

1 Book cover, TRAV MSK, in Long Beach, California, 2018

2 Overview of Taiwan

3 Nychos & Jeff Soto, Hawaii, 2013

4 James Bullough and Ricky Watts, Hawaii, 2018

5 Jet Martinez, San Jose, 2017

6 PichiAvo, Worcester, 2017

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Kicking off the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, Street Art for Mankind launched earlier this week a one-year anti-child trafficking billboard campaign online and in the streets of NYC.  Participating in this #FreeChildren Campaign are nine major street artists, who are taking over 100 billboards with visuals that educate the general public about the reality of child trafficking. All of the visuals can be activated by the free AR app “Behind the Wall,” available both on Google Play and at the App Store, that allows us to get the facts and take action simply by scanning the image.

The billboard featured above was designed by the immensely talented Spanish duo PichiAvo. Several more images of billboards that have turned into interactive installations in the streets of New York or online (video here) follow:

Spanish artist Lula Goce

Barcelona-native Cristian Blanxer

Amsterdam-based Judith de Leeuw aka JDL

Copenhagen-based Victor Ash

This #FreeChildren Campaign has been launched in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), NYC Mayor’s Office (ENDGBV), the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, JC Decaux, along with renowned experts and activists.

All photos courtesy Street Art for Mankind

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Raised in Juneau, Alaska and residing now “on the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Peoples of the Paiute, Wasco and Warm Springs Tribes,” Filipina-American artist Bekah Badilla combines symbols of past, present and future as she questions and challenges Western notions of progress. It is a progress, Bekah asserts, that is “tied up in patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism, as man and nature became increasingly separated.”

The image above, “Born Again Babaylan,” features the artist’s recent 18×44′ outdoor mural in Bend, Oregon. Melting out of the glacial ice is the spirit of a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, spirit guide and warrior prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. Embodying both technology and nature, the Babaylan offers knowledge and guidance through spirituality, mysticism and ancestral strength. To her right, a young girl is shown uplifted by her lineage and empowered to fight the battles of her time.

“As violence and oppression persist in our society,” states Bekah, “the values inherited from the Babaylan hold no consequential utility or materiality, and often carry no weight by American standards. Yet, it’s this same reason they have the power to transcend the linear and shed light on the nature of our present circumstances.”

Several close-ups from the mural follow:

The circuit boards, explains the artist, are a symbol of current and future technology,  fusing here with nature.

Bekah Badilla, alongside a segment of  “Born Again Babaylan”

All photos courtesy of the artist

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NYC-based, Stockholm-born graffiti artist and graphic designer SCRATCH has been busily making her mark on the street, on canvas and on spray cans. The image featured above was painted this past summer in uptown Manhattan. More of SCRATCH‘s works on various media follow:

Also painted on the streets, this one in Brooklyn

 “A Galaxy Far Far Away,” on canvas

 “Blue Sky” on canvas

“Viking Warrior” on canvas

On repurposed spray can

Check out the shop at Wall Works New York to view more of SCRATCH’s works on canvas and on spray cans that are for sale.

All photos courtesy the artist

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The Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival celebrated its 6th year in 2020. But it was a year like no other. Instead of taking place over a long weekend in August, it lasted for over 45 days, as artists from throughout Ireland arrived one at a time to paint their murals in accordance with social distancing guidelines. With live interviews and videos online, the festival successfully transformed urban spaces while, also, engaging the public.

The image featured above was created collaboratively by the noted Irish artists Aches and Maser. Several more images that surfaced in the 2020 The Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival follow:

London-born Ireland-based muralist and illustrator Dan Leo 

Dublin-based sign painter and lettering artist Vanessa Power

Waterford-based Polish artist Magda Karol

Dublin-based muralist and graphic artist Garreth Joyce

Irish printmaker and muralist Shane O’Driscoll

Dublin-based Niall O’Lochlainn and Waterford-based Caoilfhionn Hanton

All photos courtesy Waterford Walls; special thanks to Houda Lazrak for making the connection

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When the plywood returned to the streets of Soho shortly before the November presidential election, the artists got busy again. What a treat for us street art lovers! The image pictured above is the work of the increasingly prolific NYC-based Pure Genius. A small sampling of what’s been happening on the streets of Soho follows:

Brooklyn-based Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator with a call to support small businesses

Eyes that Love Art brings his mixed-media aesthetic to Grand Street plywood

Konstance Patton‘s signature lady with Amir Diop‘s political art to her right

Konstance Patton with a message; Sule on the door to her right and Light Noise above them both

Two short-lived works by One Rad Latina in her signature style

One of several collaborative works by Calicho and Jeff Rose King

Photo credits: 1, 4 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3, 5 & 7 Ana Candelaria; 

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Upper Manhattan — the place John Audubon had called home — hosts a huge range of public artworks featuring images of  climate-endangered birds. Within a few blocks of the recently-installed mosaic mural — fashioned by Carlos Pinto and John Sear — over a dozen murals have made their way into the neighborhood since I’d last documented the hugely impressive Audubon Mural Project back in 2018.

The image featured above, “Goose Gets Down,” was recently painted by the legendary NYC-based Snoeman. Several more murals of endangered birds follow — all curated by Avi Gitler, who founded and spearheads this remarkable  project.

Brooklyn-based George Boorujy, Gang of Warblers

Also by George Boorujy, Greater Sage-Grouse

Australian-born Jacinta Stewart, American Three-toed Woodpecker and Bullock’s Oriole — segment of larger mural that also features a Red-breasted Sapsucker

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita, Gray Hawk

And as seen last week at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side: Brooklyn-based Australian native Damien Mitchell, Peregrine Falcon, photographed by Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Photo credits: 1 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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163rd Street off Broadway was the place to be last week.  Multidisciplinary artists Carlos Pinto and John Sear brought their wondrous skills to The Audubon Mural Project, adding two elegant trumpeter swans to the approximately 100 uptown murals featuring endangered birds. The Audubon Project’s first mosaic mural fashioned entirely with recycled objects — from shards of glass to shattered plates  — garnered a huge welcome from the neighborhood, with volunteers eager to assist in the process.

Featured above is the completed mural that was captured this past Monday. The images that follow were taken last week as the mural was still in progress:

Carlos Pinto at work

And from another angle

John Sear at work

The artists take a brief break

Local folks assist Carlos Pinto and John Sear 

John Sear speaks to Audubon Mural Project director and curator Avi Gitler, who is standing next to Totem TC5‘s memorial to his son, Chris — a special, welcome addition to the mural

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Lois Stavsky;  3-6 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard 

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The following guest post was written by Juyoun Han, an attorney at Eisenberg & Baum, LLP

According to the New York Times, Black Lives Matter protests may have been the largest movement in U.S. history, and the most vigilant of these protests remain on the walls, corners, and surfaces of streets that we walk by every day. In cities across the country — Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York City — artists banded together to use their creativity as a powerful visual advocacy against racial injustice. World-renowned artist Banksy, for example, created a painting that depicts a candle at a memorial starting a small flame at the corner of a U.S. flag. Banksy expressed his support for the BLM movement in an Instagram post, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system.”

Unfortunately, these murals are short-lived, either because they are immediately tagged or destroyed by dissenters who blithely deny America’s problem of racism. Artists who had transformed boarded-up businesses into powerful BLM art witnessed their art getting thrown out by storeowners. Such defacement of protest art is unfortunately a recurring violation. In 2014, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a renowned Portland-based artist, Ashley Montague, painted a mural of late Brown entitled “Status Quo.” Unfortunately, the mural was tagged and painted over.

Now, here’s the good news: the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA Law”) may be the key to protecting and preserving these artworks. Under this law, the creators of 5Pointz recently cemented a victory after declination of review by the U.S. Supreme Court, obtaining a $6.75 million award against a luxury condo developer who destroyed what was previously considered to be “the world’s premier graffiti mecca.” The lawsuit sets a powerful precedent that may be relied upon to protect BLM murals.

Q&A about VARA Law for street artists:

My artwork was completely destroyed. Can it be protected under VARA?

Yes. VARA law protects artworks from being destroyed, but you will need to prove that the work gained “recognized stature.” This means that your work must have gained recognition by the art community and the public. There are many ways to meet this “recognized stature” standard. For example, you can show that your artwork garnered social media attention and other press coverage, that other members of the art community vouched for your work, or that your work had been featured in movies or videos.

My work is not destroyed, but some people tagged it and now it is a mockery. Does the law protect me?

Yes. VARA protects against modification, distortion, or mutilation of artworks that harms an artist’s reputation. For example, removing and making changes to sculptures made to be installed for a certain space, or partially painting over an original mural and allowing the public to see the distorted art form can harm the original artist’s esteem and reputation in the community. Even an emerging artist can show that the artist’s reputation has been harmed on a case-by-case basis. After all, part of the goal of VARA law is to protect works of lesser known artists as well as artists who have already gained fame

What if multiple artists collaborated on a single piece of artwork?

VARA may protect artwork even if it was created by multiple artists as a collaboration piece; not every artist involved needs to be famous. Even an artwork led by an artist joined by a community of teenage students can be protected under VARA.

If I am hired to install the art, can I still gain protection under VARA?

No. If you were hired to install a piece of art, then the “work-for-hire” exception applies and VARA will not protect your artwork.

What kind of protection would I gain under VARA?

If your artwork has already been destroyed, you can bring a legal action for compensation. If you have knowledge that your work may be destroyed in the future, you can prevent that from happening by requesting a legal injunction. You are also entitled to a 90-day notice before your work is removed.

What kinds of murals will VARA NOT protect?

If you signed a document or “waiver” of your VARA rights, then you cannot try to preserve your work. If you created an artwork on a property without permission or authorization from the property owner, this is a grey area—there is at least one legal case that says VARA law will not protect unauthorized artworks. However, if the artwork is removable (for example, on a board or a canvas) from the wall of the building, it might be protected even if not authorized.

If your artwork was not destroyed but modified due to normal wear and tear, or due to weather or climate change, it can be more difficult to ask for legal recovery. Also, the following forms of art are excluded from VARA protection: works made for hire, posters, maps, globes or charts, technical drawings, diagrams, models, applied art, motion pictures, books and other publications, electronic publications, merchandising items or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, packaging material or container; nor does VARA  cover any work not subject to general copyright protection.

Does it matter which state I live in?

No. VARA law is federal law, so it applies no matter which state you live in. However, there are state laws that are similar to VARA, which may give you additional legal protection.

What can artists do to protect their art?

Authorization – gaining authorization, preferably in writing, from the owner of the mural’s site to create your artwork will be advantageous in a legal action.

Recognition – the more the artist can show recognition (e.g. social media, press coverage, public and art community’s acclaim) the more effective it would be to prevent or recover compensation from those who destroyed the work.

Timely Response – if you are aware of threats to destroy or mutilate your artwork, respond in a timely manner. Contacting lawyers can help prevent the damage, facilitate negotiations, and if necessary, bring legal actions.

About the author: Juyoun Han, is a lawyer at Eisenberg & Baum LLP based in NYC. Juyoun’s practice includes Art Law, Artificial Intelligence Fairness & Data Privacy, and Disability Rights litigation. She was involved in the 5Pointz litigation and thanks her clients who have opened her eyes to
the world of art.

Note: The views expressed on this post are those of the individual author writing in her individual capacities only – not of any employers or affiliates.

Street art protest images featured here were selected and photographed by Lois Stavsky 

Ori Carino on the Lower East Side

Calicho Arevalo in Gowanus

july4art on the Bowery

Souls NYC in the Bronx, south of West Farms

5 & 6  Amir Diop in Soho and Noho

Unidentified artist in Gowanus

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When the talented Netherlands-based artist Karski teamed up with the brand Tia Maria, not only was a splendid abstract design – with one-of-a-kind colors – launched for a new drink, but an elegant book, CONTRAST, was produced, as well. With its splendid selection of images by first-rate international artists and its informative, engaging text, CONTRAST — by Karski and friends — is a cause for celebration.

A small sampling of images from CONTRAST follows:

 Karski, Untitled, Mixed media, Amsterdam, 2019

Karski and Netherlands-based Beyond — who have been working as a duo since 2012 — Untitled, PowWow Festival, Rotterdam, 2019

Karski and Beyond, Untitled, Bjelovar, Croatia, 2017

Karski and Beyond. The Holy Stork, The Hauge, 2019

Brazilian artist Sipros — whom Karski first met in 2013 when he had traveled to São Paulo to paint at the MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture and Ecology — Four faces, Big ears, Wynwood Arts District, Miami, 2019

The legendary NYC-based Chris “Daze” Ellis — one of Karski’s early inspirations — Untitled, NYC, 2016

Venezuela-born, Munich-based SatOne, Counterbalance, Frankston, Australia, 2019

In addition to the captivating artworks, among the many items of interest in CONTRAST is the fascinating chronology of Karski’s life as an artist — from the moment he picked up a spray can at age 10 to his recent experimentation with abstract work. And wonderfully intriguing, too, are the artists’ intimate impressions of one another.

Also featured in CONTRAST are: the Netherlands-based duo TelmoMeil; Amsterdam-born, Buenos Aires-based Nasepop; Rotterdam-based duo Bier En Brood; Amsterdam-based Stefan Nikolai Ormeling; Colombian native Zurikt; the late Spanish artist Treze and London-based Bonzai.

A paean to contemporary street art and to the notion of bringing together opposites in a world of contrasts, the limited-edition CONTRAST delights!

Images courtesy Karski and Tia Maria

Photo 6 of Sipros: Karin du Maire

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